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How do you handle a disgruntled employee?

While a sour, grumbling, resentful and endlessly aggrieved employee is often played for laughs in television and movies, they’re real problems in the actual business world.

Disgruntled employees make their co-workers think about looking for different jobs, slow down production, aggravate customers and hurt your business.

Some employees have even been known to purposefully sabotage their employers. They may degrade you to your customers, justify stealing from you and damaging your office equipment.

How do you handle one of these people? You have to act quickly. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a lawsuit from a customer or another employee that arises from the disgruntled employee’s behavior or actions.

Keep these tips in mind:

1. Address it immediately.

Don’t take the “wait and see” approach. That’s often what this kind of employee wants — he or she tries to make encounters so unpleasant that even managers and bosses don’t know how to cope with them and will avoid addressing their job performance.

That also empowers them to act more boldly — which is what can set you up for a big legal problem if they cross the line and retaliate against co-workers or harass a client.

2. Balance privacy with productivity.

Deal with the disgruntled employee in private and don’t let the issue distract your other employees.

Reassure the other employees that you’ve got the issue under control. Ask them to focus on their work instead of the drama behind the closed doors of your office. Remember, you set the tone your staff is going to follow.

3. Stay professional.

Some disgruntled employees like nothing more than to drag everyone else down to their level of juvenile behavior.

Even if your employee is behaving unprofessionally, you need to take the high road and keep your tone civil. Clarity, brevity and authority of tone will help you get your point across that his or her behavior at work is unacceptable.

4. Document your actions.

You must recognize that there’s the potential for a lawsuit — disgruntled employees seldom are secretly reasonable characters behind their exterior facade. Your first conversation with one about work may just be the first step toward ultimately firing that person.

Document all disciplinary meetings, any performance improvement plans, all warnings and put in writing exactly what the results will be if the disgruntled employee continues his or her behavior.

Source: www.americanexpress.com, “The 5 Steps To Managing A Disgruntled Employee,” Mike Michalowicz, accessed Dec. 15, 2017